Facebook Timelines for Business-The Basics

Facebook Timelines:

The advent of Facebook timelines has changed the ways you can use Facebook for your business. There are many great ways for you to communicate with your audience and increase your reach by engaging with people using your page. Firstly, your page should be the online manifestation of your business so make a good impression with your profile and your visitors will react well. When filling in your data you should provide accurate, relevant information and tell your visitors exactly what your business does. Use interesting and eye-catching branding and catch users attention by posting pictures that are interesting and visually stimulating and not just products from your business. Tell a story or an anecdote along with the image and use the timeline to engage with your followers, making sure you reply when they make a post on your page. Reward your most active fans and use them to create a buzz about your page,. Communicate with your customers and fans and by making regular updates you will enhance your online presence. Use your page to link to blogs and articles on your site and other sites with useful information that might be helpful for your customers. Facebook is also a great way to test new product ideas and new designs on your fans by getting opinions and advice from them and they will appreciate you asking for their opinion. Facebook is a great networking tool and you can use it to make important contacts with customers and other people in your industry.

Cover Photo:

Facebook timelines allows you to display an 851×315 banner on the top of your page. The idea for the cover picture is to symbolize what your business is all about. You are not allowed to display calls to action or ask people to ‘like’ your page on this photo. It is a great opportunity for a high impact visual, high-resolution image to attract visitors to check out your page. Some businesses lend themselves to visually stunning images, others have to try harder to create an eye-catching image telling the story of their brand. A great picture will pay off and entice people to visit your page.

About Section:

Below your cover photos is your profile picture, name and statistics, the about shows a brief description for brands and contact info, users can click the about link to reveal a map and basic information. Be sure to have a short, punchy description of your brand identity.

Page Apps:

Apps are located to the right of the about section appearing as thumbnail photos. There are four app tiles with the first always being photos, the others can include likes, events, maps, video and your pages custom apps. Users have to click-through your tabs to get to your custom apps, which means they receive less engagement with the current Facebook timelines. To edit which apps you display, click the drop-down icon to the right of the tiles, click the ‘+’ button to import your custom apps, hover over them and click the pencil to swap them around. Put the native or custom apps most crucial to your business above the fold, so discounts, contests for consumer packaged good companies, events for promoters, etc are easily seen. Only display the ‘likes’ panel if you have a lot of them and want to peer pressure new visitors into Liking your Page.

Messages:

Facebook allows users to message you, creating a new stream for customer service and advice. If you get your customers to message you about issues on Facebook it could save on precious time, free up phone lines and promote quality.

Highlights feed:

Users can view stories by you or by others who have posted on your page. You can hide or delete posts from people trolling your page. You can pin posts you especially like to the top left spot of the timeline feed for seven days at a time. This gives you control over what visitors will first see when they visit your page. You can also select to highlight posts throughout the timeline to make them appear the full width of the page.

Milestone:

You can publish special Milestone stories on your page, such as ‘the launch of the website’, these updates are favoured by the EdgeRank news feed visibility algorithm and may receive more impressions on news feeds.

Admin Panel:

The admin panel displays notifications of recent activity such as post to your timeline and new likes from fans. The ‘Manage’ button on the admin panel lets you configure your page settings.

Activity Log:

Here you see every post you have published and makes it easy for you to curate your timeline.

Facebook ads:

Facebook allows you to focus on your target audience and gain off-shore customers. Facebook users fill in a lot of information about themselves and you can use this in your ad campaign to your advantage. Firstly, create a design that will attract your target audience, make it personal to your brand and stand out from your competitors. Time your ads well, the day of the week/weekend and time of day will greatly affect the performance of the ad. Try testing the ad at different times and see the response you get. Work with a conversion tracking service such as that from Google Analytics to monitor what your ads generated. What to spend? It depends on many things, the level of competition, your budget and what model you go for. There are two Facebook advertising models; CPC (cost per click) and CPM (cost per thousand impressions). CPC means you pay when someone clicks on the ad while CPM means you pay for each 1,000 people who see the ad. You should test both models and analyse your success! https://www.facebook.com/advertising.

 

 

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Instagram-Tell the Story of Your Brand Through Imagery


While working on my marketing strategy for our new arts and crafts website cartgalore.com, I looked at the power of image sharing across the web. During this time the photo sharing programme Instagram was acquired by Facebook and it began to get even more attention from social media ‘gurus’ around the world.

With all this attention and such a fast growing user base I decided that it would be too good to ignore as part of our social media strategy which would be largely based around image sharing. I figured it was probably a no-brainer for Facebook to acquire the platform with image-sharing social networks quickly becoming the next big thing and with Instagram currently having over 100 million users , but the real question was how can we use it as part of our overall social media strategy?So I did a little research and began using the platform to see exactly how it can work for businesses.

Firstly, it is important to look at Instagram’s features; it is a simple application allowing users to share images in their social network. It turns otherwise banal looking images into stunning retro pieces of artwork in a few simple steps which you can then share to other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. This is where its real value lies; sharing beautiful images that encapsulate your brand to offer your audience a more interesting, visual experience than reading paragraphs of text on a web page. (Check out my photos of the lovely animals of Dublin Zoo). Visually stimulating anecdotal images are much more interesting than straightforward product shots and users will respond to photos they find eye-catching and interesting.

So, my advice, with people being bombarded by advertising, it is a refreshing way to reach out to your audience and create a more personal story of your brand through images, capturing moments which reflect your brand, without the hard sell of direct advertising. Whatever you do, don’t ignore it, especially if your brand or product lends itself to great images. There are lots of resources out there to help you harness the power of Instagram effectively, here are some good articles on the web that will help you get started;

Social Media Today

Digital Buzz Blog, Instagram infographic

Mashable-report

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Pinterest for Business Tips

Pinterest homepage

The image-sharing site Pinterest is growing fast with more than 10 million unique monthly visitors as of February 2012 according to a report by ComScore. It is now the third most popular social media site behind Facebook and Twitter, but what is even more interesting is that it drives high rates of traffic to websites, which can turn into revenue. There are conflicting reports as to whether Pinterest actually leads to more sales than other sites (forbes) , but it definitely should not be ignored, especially if your business is in the home, gift, gardening fashion and craft retail categories. Pinterest works especially well for custom-made products because they offer the opportunity for visually engaging, attractive images.There is plenty of information on Pinterest and its growing numbers, here is an infographic from the Huffington Post, which illustrates the important facts about the site. Women seem to make up the majority of visitors to the site, and what’s even more interesting is, a lot of them have DISPOSABLE INCOME.

Now that you’re getting excited, here are a few tips on how to use Pinterest to get these nice rich ladies looking at your website;

  • Pin interesting and unique visually stunning images
  • Categorise them into albums by style, design, etc
  • Write an engaging description paragraph that encompasses your brand message
  • Share your images on Facebook and Twitter, this way you can use Pinterest as an online catalogue that can lead people to your site
  • Don’t upload them from your computer, pin them directly from your website
  • Make it easy for people to subscribe to your page
  • Focus on pinning and liking users who get the most repins and follow them
  • Make sure all your images link back to your site
  • Keep your albums clean and simple, avoid clutter
  • Try to think of a weekly pin, based on a certain theme keeping your page up to date and interesting

Here is a nice article on Squidoo about what Pinterest can do for you

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Mobile Marketing: Smartphone Usage Infographic

This is a recent infographic I made based on a study by O2 on smartphone usage, it offers an insight into the way people are using their smartphones, and with the increasing popularity of smartphones it is fast becoming a central part of many business marketing strategies. According to recent statistics from IDC 153.9 million smartphones were sold in the second quarter of 2012 which shows it is a rapidly growing market and should not be ignored as part of any marketing campaign. Mobile marketing is still lagging behind usage so it is time for businesses to catch up with what people are doing and take advantage of the many cheap and versatile ways to reach customers through their smartphones.  There are many reasons why mobile marketing is becoming vital to many top companies’ marketing strategies. It offers constant, easy access to clients, a high rate of people reading promotional emails and messages, it is a highly interactive medium, driving sales, and can be personalised to suit the consumer based on time, place and preferences.

People are with their mobile phones all day, whether in work, out running, watching TV, the phone is always near, so it is vital to base your mobile marketing strategy on context. This will focus on what the consumers needs are by offering useful, interesting content that is accessible and can be integrated with other products such as computers and tablets. The key is to create engaging content that can be delivered in a variety of ways, whether paid or free, the smartphone is a holistic marketing window that is a readily accessible and cheap way to promote your business.  When planning your strategy, you must choose the correct ways for you to achieve your goals. There are many options including; promotional messages offering discounts and prizes, apps to enrich your customers lives and experiences or to engage them with your brand, QR codes as quick and accessible hyperlinks to your web pages and mobile web marketing with mobile optimised websites. Whichever you choose, make sure you have looked at the real world context of the consumers, because they have their phones with them all day, try to imagine what they would be doing when they use their phones at certain times. A good mobile marketing strategy will connect real world experiences with mobile and think of how the material can be integrated across several platforms and products. Be different and innovative without being complicated, aim for maximum reach and make sure mobile is central to your campaign, not just an afterthought. Aim to create interactivity between the customer and the brand to offer something that people can engage with and use within their day.

Case Studies:

Toyota Botarga Race

Dizee Rascal’s Mobile Backstage

Nike’s ID Campaign

Heineken Dual Screen

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Experiment!

I was inspired when reading Seth Godin’s Blog on ‘The simple power of one day’ by how easy it is to try something one day and see if it works. This is closely in line with the principles of The Lean Startup which tells us how we can use validated learning to avoid making costly mistakes in business.You can use the principles of the Lean Startup in your business and learn from failures without making huge losses.

For example, in these early stages of marketing an arts and crafts website www.cartgalore.com; a college project I am currently working on to help craft-sellers market and sell their products, we are trying various methods of marketing to see which works best. Our aim is to get people to sign up to the website which is not yet live. So as part of our ‘Lean Start Up’ experiment we created a sign-up page, with some info about the website, a blog and a place for people to register their details with us. To market the page we used social media, Facebook ads, image sharing, traditional advertising and a Google ads campaign. We ran short campaigns using different wordings and spent very little money, but learned a lot from these experiments. We now know that there are people who are interested in the website and the bulk of the interest came from the arts and crafts blogs and Google ads. This key information shows us where to concentrate our efforts when marketing to crafts sellers and also helps us to know how to communicate with our target audience!

You can use the principles of The Lean Startup for your business by trying something new everyday, simply take inspiration from Seth’s blog; teach your employee a new skill, send a personal thank you note to a customer etc. You might find new avenues to reach your customers, don’t be afraid to experiment, even if you get negative feedback, it can help you learn from your mistakes. Plan your experiment, select the tools that you are going to use, what you will spend and how long it will run and create a metric for success. Analyse your experiment and see if it has succeeded according to your metrics, or failed. Then when it is over, make a ‘pivot’ (change something) and try again to see if it works better. Don’t be afraid to try new things, tweak things and be sure to experiment!

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Social Media Marketing

Image

Social media is a great way to reach out to potential customers and there are many great tools from facebook to twitter and pinterest that are at your disposal. But it’s not just about the number of ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ you get, it’s about a new way of marketing, of turning these people who engage with you into loyal customers. People are continuously bombarded with advertisements and traditional marketing, social media offers an opportunity for a different, more effective kind of marketing, that is; engaging with people and building a community around your business. It is about gaining the trust of people, creating relationships and communicating with potential customers.

Experiment! Social media allows you to test and experiment with people; it can provide the perfect infrastructure for you to create your own ‘tribe’ of fans. By building a tribe of people you can create a true loyal following of fans. It is important that you plan how you are going to use your social media, for example, facebook-what you are going to post? How often and when? Use good content and experiment with different methods to see what works best for you. You will need to truly engage with your followers, doing the bare minimum simply won’t work, treat your customers right and they will reward you over the coming weeks, months and years. You will only win true and loyal fans by being social and interacting. If you have a blog, concentrate on writing good content, quality over quantity, tweet about your blog posts once and if they like it they will come. Don’t focus only on your own brand or business, to engage people you need to start a conversation about your industry, your lifestyle, and offer solutions to the issues and problems that affect you and people in your industry.

There are many tools out there from you to choose from; Twitter, wordpress, facebook, pinterest, linkdin etc, are you using them to their full potential? Are you engaging with people? Building a following of loyal fans takes time, effort and commitment. Build your following by leading them, providing helpful advice, rewarding them and most of all with interesting content and engaging with people. The main mistakes people make with social media is to turn it into advertisements for their business, this will lose trust and make people feel like you don’t care about them.

For example: being and artist or craft-seller means that you have something much more valuable to share with people, the story of you as an artist. You will need to think about what would be useful to your readers or followers, any helpful advice or tips on your industry will be much more effective than bombarding them with product shots. It is the story behind the product that people care about. The arts and crafts industry is at a distinct advantage in that each piece is unique and interesting. When you do post products make sure they are good quality pictures and say something different and interesting about them for example; ‘these is a necklace inspired by an Irish legend my Mother used to read for me as a child’, just something anecdotal. Always remember to respond to people who comment, even a simple ‘thank you’ will do. Reach out to people, interact and offer them advice when they need it and they will reward you tenfold.

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